Child representatives in the Children's Court

In some child protection cases at the Children’s Court of WA your child may be given a lawyer, called a child representative, to help the court work out what your child wants or what is in their best interests. This lawyer is sometimes also called a ‘separate representative’.

Alternatively, you might think your child needs a lawyer in their child protection case. 

Child representatives have had special training to be children’s lawyers. If it is appropriate (for example, depending on age), the lawyer will meet with your child.

After the meeting, the lawyer will decide if your child has 'sufficient maturity and understanding' to give instructions and wants to do so. If the answer is yes, the lawyer will let the court know that they are able to act on instructions and what your child wants.

If your child is not able to give instructions, or if there are other special reasons, the lawyer will tell the court what they think is in the best interests of your child. Even if the lawyer tells the court what arrangements they believe are in your child’s best interests they will let the court know your child’s wishes.

If your child can understand, the lawyer will explain to them how the court procedure works and the decisions the court might make about their future.

This webpage has information on how child representatives are appointed, their role and what you can do to help your child if one is appointed.

You can find information about lawyers for children in Family Court cases on our webpage: Independent Children’s Lawyers.

How is a child representative appointed?

The magistrate decides whether a child should have their own lawyer. However, as a parent, you can ask for the magistrate to appoint a lawyer. The magistrate will consider your request. The Department of Communities, Child Protection can also ask for your child to have a lawyer appointed.

Do I have to pay for a lawyer for my child?

No, in protection and care Children’s Court cases you do not have to pay for your child’s lawyer.

What must the lawyer tell the court?

If the lawyer is acting in your child's best interests, the lawyer must tell the court:

  • all the key information about your child's background and current situation, and
  • what they think is in your child’s best interests

 to help the court decide what will be best for your child.

If acting on instructions, the lawyer must tell the court your child’s instructions just as a lawyer for an adult would do.

What if my children want different things?

If your children want different things the same lawyer may not be able to represent them, especially if they are acting on instructions.

If this happens the lawyer will let the court know. The court may have to arrange for a new lawyer for one or all your children.

What can I do if a child representative is appointed?

You can help your child by not asking them about what they said to the child representative.

If your child is living with you:

  • make sure they attend all appointments arranged by the child representative, and
  • allow your child to freely contact the child representative and talk in private.



Reviewed: 9 November 2023




The information displayed on this page is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should see a lawyer. Legal Aid Western Australia aims to provide information that is accurate, however does not accept responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information provided on this page or incorporated into it by reference.